Richa Moorjani

On connecting with characters through authenticity and defining what true representation means


Talent: Richa Moorjani @richamoorjani

Creative Director: AmbiKa “B” Sanjana @styledbyambika

Photographer: Sequoia Emmanuelle @sequoiaemmanuelle

DIT: Mariangela Quiroga-Cantillo @mariaqphotography

Fashion: AmbiKa “B” Sanjana @styledbyambika

Fashion Assist: Leksy Lindau @leksylindau, Sarah Gibsonn @sarahmgibsonn, Nikita Jacob @elizajacob._

Tailor: Daria Simonova @mrs.jun.tailor

Hair: Virginie Pineda @virginie.pineda for The Visionaries using R+Co and Sam McKnight

Make up: Gabi Alvarez @thegabriellealvarez

Nails: Paka Cozmo @pakacozmo_nails

Location: Hotel Per La @hotelperladtla

From her compelling portrayal of Kamala in Netflix’s coming of age dramedy series Never Have I Ever to her transformative role as Indira in FX’s American crime drama Fargo, Indian American actress Richa Moorjani navigates characters with finesse, depth, and a commitment to genuine representation.

In Never Have I Ever, which follows Indian American teen Devi Vishwakumar’s journey in self love and growth, Moorjani's portrayal of Devi’s cousin from India transcends the confines of a typical supporting character. Initially introduced as the epitome of traditional Indian values, Kamala evolves into a multifaceted individual, grappling with her own ambitions and desires.

Next, stepping into the gritty universe of Fargo, Moorjani sheds her Never Have I Ever persona to embody the resilience and determination of Indira Olmstead, a complex character dealing with both financial and emotional burdens. Based on the 1996 film of the same name, every season in the series is a standalone story, introducing a new set of characters in a new time and place, but all connected in the same universe. In season 5, which premiered on November 21, 2023, Moorjani joins the cast as a deputy in Scandia, Minnesota who investigates a kidnapping case in 2019.

Reflecting on her contrasting experiences, Moorjani shares the importance of both roles and how it felt to graduate from Kamala after four seasons. One of her favorite things about playing Kamala was how much she evolved from the first season to the last. She elaborates, “When we first meet her, she is presented as this seemingly perfect young woman from India getting her PhD in the US and doing everything a good Indian girl should do—the foil to Devi’s messy character. But throughout the seasons we discover that Kamala is flawed just like everyone else—she has her own ambitions, secrets, and desires like any other girl her age. I loved how close she and Devi became as they navigated family drama, relationships, and school/work together.”

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As Kamala and Devi’s characters evolved individually, so did their relationship as cousins. The two found common ground in their shared experiences, proving that familial bonds transcend geographical distances and cultural differences. “That special and sacred relationship between cousins who grow up across the world from each other is something that is unique to communities like ours and often serves as a direct line of connection to our homeland growing up here in the diaspora,” Moorjani added.

Saying goodbye to Never Have I Ever and to Kamala was not easy, but at the same time, Moorjani says she’s grateful for all of the gifts it has given her and for its legacy that will continue to pave the way for more South Asian diasporic centered stories for years to come. “It left me with a renewed sense of purpose to seek out roles of complex and bold brown women in various genres that both stretch the narrative and shape culture.”

Indira and Kamala, though vastly different as characters, are both women resisting forces that seek to subdue them. Moorjani found the same sense of empowerment she experienced playing Kamala when she took on the role of Indira. “It was thrilling to step into the shoes of a character so different from what I’d done in the past but also so different from myself,” says Moorjani. “And to get to play an iconic character that has always been integral to the previous installments and movie of Fargo, but with a totally different spin, was a huge honor.”

One big change from working between the two roles was going from Kamala’s Indian accent to the Minnesota accent for Fargo, which she says was challenging but enjoyable. “There’s something really exciting to me about seeing a brown woman with a Midwestern accent, because it’s both realistic (they exist) and also something we never see in Western media. As soon as I wrapped on Never Have I Ever, I began speaking in the Minnesota accent in my real life as much as possible. And I pretty much stayed in that accent throughout shooting for 6 months in Calgary,” she shares. “And of course, I got to work with the brilliant Liz Himelstein who is the official Fargo dialect coach since the original movie. She even shared an audio recording with me to use as practice every day which was the same audio recording the actors like Frances McDormand used to train in the accent.”

Moorjani also collaborated with show creator Noah Hawley to bring authenticity to her character. “Indira’s identity as a woman of color, specifically Indian American, was something that was not only important to me to represent accurately. It was also deeply important to Noah,” Moorjani explains. “It was important to him to create a character and world that reflected the real world he knows.” She and Hawley had several discussions about her role before she arrived in Calgary to shoot the series, including what items to incorporate into Indira's home to reflect her character and cultural background. “That sense of collaboration and openness was incredibly meaningful to me, and something that made me have so much trust in him,” she says.

Although Indira being Indian American was not directly related to the plot, Moorjani explains that it had been a big part of her understanding of who Indira was, and made her feel even more real to her. “There’s something about reading a script with a character who has a name that feels real to me, like ‘Indira.’ It immediately creates an alignment of consciousness, which doesn’t happen so quickly when the character has a name that I would never associate with someone who looks like me. It’s a gift to get to work with a creator like Noah who understands those nuances on a level most of the industry still has far to go to reach.”


Despite all of this, Richa Moorjani shares that she nearly didn’t audition for Fargo because she feared people wouldn’t ever believe her as that character. “Imposter syndrome is something I’ve come to realize almost every actor I know experiences regardless of their background or their resume,” she says, “but I believe it affects underrepresented people including South Asian women like me on a different level because we are quite literally carving a new path and breaking through barriers that have forever felt impossible to break through. Being in spaces where you’re often the only one who looks like you is scary and isolating, and probably another part of the reason we second guess ourselves.”

Richa Moorjani's hesitation to audition for Fargo sheds light on the persistent challenges faced by actors from underrepresented communities. Nonetheless, there are signs of progress within Hollywood. “We’re lucky that now, in the year of 2024, we are in the Golden Age of storytelling, with a renaissance of sorts when it comes to Asian American stories in recent years from film to TV that makes it easier for diversity in Hollywood to be celebrated and seen.”

Moorjani emphasizes that there is still a very long way to go for the Asian community as a whole in terms of equity and inclusion, specifically the South Asian diaspora. “We haven’t had our Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All At Once, or Beef yet,” she explains. “Never Have I Ever was groundbreaking for a series in that it centered a South Asian American family (among other things), but it can’t be the only one. There’s still so much ground to break, and our community is bursting at the brim with untold stories and unbelievable talent that are waiting and deserve to be out there.”

Looking towards the future, Moorjani mentions that she just completed a sci-fi horror project that she can’t mention the name of yet, and that, like Fargo, it is also a total departure from anything she has done in the past. “It opened me up to a whole new world of characters and stories I can see myself doing,” she shares. “I’ve now done a family dramedy (Never Have I Ever), dark comedy/true crime thriller (Fargo), and now a sci-fi horror, so I’m looking forward to continuing to push boundaries and to do a cool psychological thriller or action adventure next!”

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